W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > January 2001

Re: WWW: Interoperability Crisis?

From: David Meadows <david@heroes.force9.co.uk>
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2001 20:32:35 -0000
Message-ID: <017001c084b4$c542c140$ea1c9fd4@astra>
To: <edward@platopress.co.uk>, <www-html@w3.org>
"Edward Barrow" <edward@platopress.co.uk> wrote:


[...]
> > I have a few technical journals here. I'll see what they contain:
> >
> > (1) Text.
> > (2) Images (charts and pictures) *embedded in* the text.
>
> With respect, this assumes a print model for scientific documents (a.k.a.
> "papers"). It should be possible to transcend the limitations of  paper,
> using the new media better to explain science (or more generally,
> scholarship).

Yes it should be possible, but I don't think it has been achieved yet. Not
because the technology isn't there but because the "improved" conceptual
model isn't there.

> > To properly model the documents,
>
> Why do you want to model something that is limited by its own obsolescent
> medium?

Assume that a certain class of document must contain words *and* pictures in
order to convey its full meaning. There are many examples of such documents.
The delivery medium is unimportant, but if those words and pictures are not
present then the document is not accomplishing its intended purpose.

Forget that I said "model the documents". How about: "to accomplish the
content creator's intended purpose in the most effective way" (which to an
analyst would equate to "model the document"). If the purpose of the
document is to convey information that has both textual and graphical
components, then the most effective way of doing that is to embed the images
in the document. It's true on paper and I believe it's true on any 2D
"paper-like" space, and also true on any 3D space I can conceptualise.

> I would need the <img> tag that you want to
> > ban. You want me to use <a> instead? But my technical articles integrate
> > images and text on the same page. The text refers to the pictures. They
> are
> > an integrated whole. Yet in effect you want me to say "now close this
> > journal and open the accompanying picture book. Memorise the picture.
>
> Who  says [*]  that links must be rendered this way? The link is semantic,
> not presentational.

I don't see your point. I agree that there is a semantic relationship
between the text and the image. But the display medium has to reflect that
relationship. And embedding the image in the appropriate place is the best
model we have for displaying this relationship.

> > HTML, right from its inception, was, according to its stated purpose, a
> tool
> > for displaying multimedia content. It accomplished this task very poorly
> > until graphical browsers and the <img> tag came along.
>
> The <img> tag enables mainly flat 2D illustrations. Hardly multimedia.
The
> <img> tag is of its nature more presentational than semantic.

Your definition of multimedia is very narrow. Words are one medium, pictures
are another. Text + 2D illustrations = multiple media.

[...]

> Strict separation of semantics and presentation imposes a useful
discipline
> upon the new media and requires an ascetic approach to authorship which
may
> at first seem at odds with the  potential of the technology, but it is no
> different to the disciplines of orthography and typography which are
needed
> fully to exploit the potential of paper.

I would argue that the positioning of an image in the text flow conveys
information about the semantic relationship between the image and the text.
The positioning of any element, picture or otherwise, carries information.
It is actually impossible to separate presentation and content because
presentation also conveys (or implies) information.


--
David Meadows [ Technical Writer | Information Developer ]
DNRC Minister for Littorasy * david@heroes.force9.co.uk
Assorted essays: www.themestream.com/authors/87004.html

"Nothing is too wonderful to be true."
   -- Michael Faraday
Received on Monday, 22 January 2001 15:50:57 GMT

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